updated 07:26 pm EDT, Sun March 30, 2014
Sharing copyright-infringing files on Dropbox shows DMCA warning for some users
Dropbox is preventing some users from sharing specific files over DMCA complaints, according to reports. A screenshot showing a folder on the cloud-based storage service with the DMCA warning has appeared on Twitter, which at the time of writing has been retweeted close to 3,000 times, with the user seemingly unable to share a file thanks to Dropbox's automated copyright-infringement prevention systems.
Designer Darrell Whitelaw told ZDNet he posted the screenshot because he had not seen it before. Whitelaw attempted to send a link to the file in question, an unnamed .mp4 video, to a friend over an instant messaging service, though the recipient saw the warning message instead of being able to access the file. It implied that the copyright of the file being shared is not owned by Whitelaw, and that sharing of the file was blocked immediately.
Screenshot showing DMCA warning on Dropbox
It is likely that the file uploaded to Dropbox by Whitelaw was not subject to a DMCA complaint in its own right, but it may have been triggered by another uploader. In order to save space and to prevent redundant copies of files, Dropbox uses de-duplication, namely keeping only one copy of a file on its servers instead of having storage capacity wasted by multiple users. It is possible that the file was subject to a DMCA request previously, and has subsequently been blocked from sharing for all other users that uploaded the same file.
A spokesperson said that Dropbox "sometimes receives notices to remove links on copyright grounds," and that links to files are processed and disabled when identified. The spokesperson also confirmed it uses "an automated system that then prevents other users from sharing the identical material using another Dropbox link."